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The Maybe McQueen Blog

A couple of years back I had the absolute pleasure of working with a powerhouse of a sexy and intelligent woman. She was a mother to three gorgeous girls, was a very successful CEO and business woman and a human being that inspired me no end through her tenacity for living life to the fullest. But also for her extraordinary capacity to move on in her life whilst very still very much honouring her past.

We not only worked together to explore what her next chapter could look like working independently and establishing her own successful business, but to also uncover how she could make a difference on a more personal level.

As part of the coaching process and a commitment to reignite her passion for writing, we set a very specific action to write about something deeply personal that has not only shaped who she is, but consistently reminds her as to what is most important in life. We also agreed that we would have it published in one way or another to break through her own ego of whether or not it was good enough, because if she COULD support making a difference to ONE person, then WHY wouldn’t you face you fear and make a difference in some tiny way? 

Today, in honour of all those who have had their lives torn wide open by the unruly destruction of loss and who are also still far away from gazing upon a horizon that boasts the potential of another beautiful day, is what my client wrote. It is raw, honest and wildly confronting, but above all, shares the roller coaster of life, love, loss and the opportunity to find your way back!

 

Guest post by Kate D……

HE WAS MY BROTHER… 

“We are sorry for your loss”, “our deepest sadness and heartfelt sympathy”, “we will treasure him and remember him always”, “a gift, his life was taken before his time and for this we carry every regret”, “We are here with you, our thoughts, our love, our care”….

The words jumble around the courier delivered flowers, fruit boxes, massage vouchers, the world stops and cocoons with you for a moment…phone calls, meal parcels and then there’s tomorrow.

And the tomorrows hurt, and the days after, the funeral arrangements. No-one prepared you for this. His body kept at a foreign cool temperature for optimum preservation while you get to say your goodbyes. Choosing his burial outfit, his favourite top, sneakers or proper shoes…ermm sneakers. Where’s the memo, hey, your youngest brother will die at 25, here’s the checklist. Hello Valium, your new best friend. Oh, and hello Mr super friendly, served with a kick Vodka. A couple of shots to view the body, tick, a few more shots afterwards while you stave off the reality and face the next phone call. Tick. A few smashing shots before the funeral, a comfortable haze kicks in.

The blurr, the auto-pilot the survival button depressed on FULL ALERT.  Its Vodka for breakfast, or yesterday’s lunch or perhaps it was dinner. Life is grey and patchy, the colour fell out of it, discarded with yesterday’s news.

I know about this life. It will trickle by, empty now of the space he filled. What the dirty sneakers smelt like and how many times you yelled for him to leave them outside, when he visited. You hanker for any familiarity to come racing back, you’ll take it all unjudged, the mouthwatering and the repellent, because all of this made up him, and you can’t just drink him in anymore. You can’t filter out the good parts and the parts you don’t need to know about. When you realize this, tears burn, a torrid path of sadness. If only…The days then fill with if only, if only burns, its welts a scar, finger nails across your breathe, cold tendrils around your insides, whispering the thickly guilt ridden, why didn’t I…. Why didn’t I just say this, why didn’t I let him win our last fight, why didn’t I tell him I loved him before the jump, no I was waiting to watch him fly. You keel with the sob, unexpected, gurgling out of you, no time to catch it first. A sister’s sadness, even the Vodka cannot keep it at bay.

The casket has been sent into the hurtling flames, you don’t want to think about it. The next chapter unveils itself. To someone else, it’s just another day, time to switch on the 6pm news. For you it’s a step in discourse, you stare blankly at a screen, maybe its been hours, the meaning lost between the seconds and the minutes scratching past in grief. You were just thinking about asking him around for dinner, he’d be starving after training, you go to the fridge and its not until the saucepan is on the stove, that you realize he’s gone. The meaningful others and well wishes, fade with the days ahead. For you, it will always be as real as your earliest memories, family. So you set a place for him anyway, it’s too soon to leave an empty chair.

Sometimes you think you see him in the street, you chase after him, his name escapes your lips, then you remember, it won’t be him that turns to answer. You stand at the counter, his favourite CD in hand, Christmas is around the corner, just as you pay you remember he won’t be here for Christmas. A quiet sob escapes. Much quieter now, as its been months and you’re growing used to this new rhythm. To the sister of only one brother now soundtrack. You make choices, choice about life and the world moves from black and white to a warm sepia. One day the colour returns, but its tapestry is different and you carry that ‘different’ with you. A bundle of memories, folded in your pocket, with you when you need them. The girl at the checkout counter smiles, and this time you remember to smile back. Hey, its going to be Ok.

HE WAS MY SON…

Fuck you world and you too God, you’re not there are you?

I had to be brave. I still had to push. I had to meet him, the little man I’d carried for 9 months. The healthy cherub that was going to be the first-born son. My nights, head and belly had swooned with motherhood. I talked and sung, I told him stories. We chose our football team. We discussed schooling, we had the girlfriend talk, just quietly, he and I, mother to son, sharing thoughts and values as I waddled the long stretch of the corridor to pee for the one-millionth time. He was going to be perfect, in the only way a mother can feel about their child, growing and blossoming inside them.

“Kate, here’s the grief counsellor, she’s going to talk you through this”. I look up over my swollen belly and hospital gown. “Kate, there are a few things we need to talk about. Do you want him placed directly on you, or would you like him swaddled and wrapped?”

Oh JESUS. What is she saying. I’ve never seen anyone dead, let alone my own son. How do I answer that. He’s my baby, please just give him to me. “Kate, there’s the details of his birth and death certificate, what would you like his full name to be. Would you like him cremated, or buried….A large number of couples don’t survive this trauma so we provide a full grief service support, for as long as you need the counselling”

A wracking contraction rips through me, I let out a deep guttural sound. My husband holds one hand, his eyes closed in sleep, his perfect nose and the familiar shape of his lips, finally real infront of me, his lashes long and full. I take in every detail, his finger nails, the shape of his hands, I kiss his forehead and hand him to my husband to hold. Safely in his fathers arms, he leans to kiss him, father to son, the resemblance is striking. So handsome both. A tear slips quietly, a disturbed path across my husband’s cheek. I hover somewhere far above, floating and drifting, watching this strange scene unfold below.

Our little baby is weighed and measured. All his details recorded in his little bluebook, including his time of death in-utero, 8hours ago, 10.23pm. He is unwrapped. From the safety of the ceiling, I see his broad shoulders, the curve of his chest, his perfect feet and I wonder how I’m able to float up here and yet see everything. Its all perfectly clear, accept for the black and white lens, the hospital gown is no longer blue, it’s a shade of grey. I float to the bathroom to change, I stare into the eyes of a stranger, they are dark grey and afraid, a different girl is peering out.

We leave him, alone. The hospital will keep him for a week, so we can go back and visit, say our goodbyes, introduce the family. Oh, Mum, I can’t wait for you to meet him, he’s just delish…her silence is deafening…yes of course I’ll come to the hospital, but oh, darling…I’m so very sorry that he’s dead.

The car trip home is still, a slick emptiness dangerously threatens to swallow me hole. I haven’t spoken, or made a sound, no tears. I took the drugs to stop my milk from coming in. I want to hide. The front door opens and my world falls apart. I didn’t know you can come home without your baby. I can’t walk past his room, his empty cot, his first blanket waiting in anticipation, the beautiful crafted owl, keening for a friend that will never come to play.

I lie in an embryonic pile, sobbing on the floor, the walls of the house echoing and bouncing in sadness. The days drip by, tripping and falling into each other, a dark monotone. I heal quietly on the outside, but the inside can’t quite catch up. I see him in my dreams, my smiling gurgling cherub, I awake to race and greet him and realise that my day time is the nightmare.

My sleep comes in fits and starts. I flip on the news – WORLD HORROR on the largest scale. GLOBAL ACT OF TERRORISM. Twin Towers collapse, people fall, others leap, lives obliterated. A BIG FAT welcome to my FUCKED UP WORLD.  Come join my page. Black and White, horrific. Come march the same tune, the dark drum of sadness, of terror and loss.

Then one day I catch it from the corner of my eye, a small fresh sprig of green, so small and fragile, delightedly quivering in a light morning breeze. It stops me dead. I stare in wonderment, hey, I want to shout. HEY! HEY WORLD! Look at this. A tiny perfect sign of life – see it, see it for what it is, look how bravely it stands alone and faces the world. Look at its colour, a wild and magnificent green. How can we not live with this, how can we not dream again, how can we not see the great potential of life. C’mon, lets race, the first to the corner wins.

Kate x

 

 

 

 

  • quilan

    Raw emotion….your strength & ability to muster the courage to face/relive it….to speak of it, so that moment becomes real and present is painfully beautiful. The hole, the wound that never heals. I thank and admire you for removing the bandage to expose a glimpse of your soul, which inevitably will empower another mother to do the same…the very essence of healing.

  • Vicki Magnuson

    I don’t know what to say but OH WOW

  • Sally T.

    This is really incredibly tender and open-hearted writing, Kate. You’re a really talented and visceral writer with a difficult story to tell, but one you’ve shared with so much love. As a mum and a sister, I am so sorry for your losses. But as you’ve so poignantly observed, time heals even the most awful traumas and gives us the opportunity to start over. All the best to you!

  • Susana Gabaldón Infante

    Still searching for the first sign of spring … Thank you.

  • Rivke

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us Kate, the courage it takes to not only open up to strangers but to speak of it to yourself, would be immense.
    It is warming and reassuring to know that spring does return.

    Blessed Be!

    Thank you Vashti for exposing us to yet another inspiring, courageous and strong woman.

  • Tinks

    Dear Kate, Your pain leaps from the page, it is so raw, so heartbreaking… I imagine myself in your shoes.. and I admit my eyes are tearing up.. to go through hell and to be able to come back.. a different but perhaps stronger person… to see that flash of green. God Speed and thank you for sharing. x

  • Tammie

    Dear Kate…. The soul sister I hoped to never have his name was Avery Michael.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pat.adie.5 Pat Adie

    What beautiful raw emotional words which pull the reader in, definitely wanting to read more.
    Brings back memories as if they were only yesterday, not 28 years ago. I still often wonder to this day what he or she might have done with their life, who they would resemble in looks and personality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sillycelly Celeste Martinez

    ~sigh~ <3

  • Claire Abbott

    Thank you Kate for sharing with us what must have been the most darkest points in your life. But I also want to thank you for showing us that it is possible to come back from darkness when we may feel that there is no light :) x

  • Elena

    Fully revealing, Oh, Kate, you tell your two devastating stories in that way that we do think “god, thanks, thanks, thanks for what I have, and God, right now I’m going to kiss and hug my family and my children and my husband and enjoy them every minute of the day because I can loose them at any time “… I’m still very excited and, above all, very tired of just “survive” and not fully enjoy life and what really matters in life. Thanks for sharing this with us, Kate, and thank you, Vashti, for release its importance!

  • Susana Matos Nunes

    So emotional…. So rough! I don’t even have words…. As you know I’m pregnant of a boy, have a girl already with 4 and I’ve been trought my losses too, but as hard as this? No way! I will lie if I say that I understand. No I can, cause I have the lucky of never being throw such a painful and unfair situation. Have the hability to live again is unique, a real inspiration and I wish you can go on in that beautiful green and sunny field! Be alive!

  • http://www.facebook.com/naomi.duvall Naomi McMillon Duvall

    WOW!!! Kate your writing engulfed me in your sadness and left me in tears but also inspired by your raw emotion and honesty. As Vashti has said every moment has beauty even the sadness moments. Thank you for sharing♥

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004471262244 Marie Yateman

    As a sister, I lost my brother three years ago and it was heart wrenching. We have no aunts, uncles or cousins, in London. It was me and him. Mum and dad had left to go back to Jamaica some twenty years previously, leaving their two children behind, because we were adults, so when I got the call that he was dying, it was like a bolt of lightning had struck and to find the medics coming out of his home and commiserating with me, I then became angry. I was angry with the people around him who wanted to view his dead body and with god. I was asking why? What had he done that was so bad, that he had to die. This was a man who was alive and talking on the phone to me the night before. So what the hell went wrong? Then I turned and looked into the face of my son and its as if all my anger and rage, melted away. The words Kate has written are so strong but it teaches us never to take our time on this earthly plane for granted. Wonderful writing Kate. Well done.

  • Kathleen

    Incredible! So painful, raw and beautiful. Thankyou xxx

  • madeleine

    Bravo Kate! this would also make an AMAZING monologue!!! XXX

  • Claire Howdle

    Wow Kate! I so admire the strength it must have taken to relive and write your story. It will have touched so many people who have been through similar experiences and it shows that you can get through them eventually. The saying ”What does not kill you will make you stronger” comes to mind when i read this. I honestly do believe strong people are not born they are made. Thank you for sharing you heart breaking and inspiring story, it really does make me feel thankful for what I have NOW and appreciate it for what it is. BE HERE NOW xx

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